Hot Docs review: Pick Of The Litter

Film about training Labrador retrievers as Guide Dogs for the Blind is delightful and effective

PICK OF THE LITTER (Dana Nachman, Don Hardy, U.S.). 79 minutes. Rating: NNNN

There are few things more delightful than Labrador retriever puppies, and Pick Of The Litter knows it, following five dogs over their first two years of life as they’re placed with foster families by Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Producer/directors Dana Nachman (Batkid Begins) and Don Hardy lean into the adorability of it all – and really, how could they not? – but they’ve also constructed a thoughtful film about the exacting selection process for guide dogs, and the bonds that form between the pups and the people who’ve agreed to raise them for a limited span of time. (Not everyone fully understands the emotional investment, which leads to some painful moments when the time comes for a given pup to move forward in his or her training.)

The dogs are totally winning, and the complexity of their training is fascinating. The packaging is maybe a little on the cutesy side, but as an infomercial for Guide Dogs for the Blind, it’s undeniably effective.

May 2, 9 pm, Scotiabank 4 May 4, 1 pm, Isabel Bader May 6, 3:15 pm, TIFF 1

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